Emmerdale spoilers: Belle is attacked – but is Lachlan responsible?

Actor Steve Halliwell, who plays Belle's dad Zak, gives his take on his screen daughter's latest trauma

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Belle Dingle (Eden Taylor-Draper) is to be left injured and upset when it appears as though she’s been attacked. Next week’s episodes will see a shaken Belle refusing to go to the police despite what seems to be a growing vendetta against her. So what does her family make of it all?

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“They’re all worried about her welfare and want to get to the bottom of it,” says actor Steve Halliwell, who plays Belle’s dad Zak. Is there a particular person who is bullying and tormenting her? Belle isn’t very forthcoming in letting them know if there is anyone in particular. But the Dingles suspect that it might be Lachlan.”

Newcomer Lachlan (Thomas Atkinson) certainly seems to be a likely suspect and the evidence is soon stacking up: he’s had an argument with Belle at school, while mum Chrissie is concerned when she sees her son with a cut on his head. And matters only get worse when Lachlan is found in possession of cans of spray paint, all of which suggests that he was the one to have recently daubed ‘Murderer’ on the wall of the Dingles’ house.

Pretty soon, Zak is haring up to Home Farm to confront the Whites. So is Lachlan really the guilty party? “Zak does go up there ranting about the things that Lachlan may have done to upset the Dingles and Belle in particular. But there is evidence to prove that it couldn’t have been Lachlan, so Zak’s getting increasingly confused about who’s doing this to Belle.”

One thing for certain is that the Dingles are set to remain increasingly concerned about Belle’s behaviour in the wake of her release from prison. “Zak doesn’t know how to help her,” continues Halliwell. “He knows she’s been traumatised by what’s happened after her friend Gemma died at her hands and she’s been in an institution where there will have been some rough characters. But Zak can’t get to the bottom of why his daughter is behaving oddly.”

Thankfully, there are no such traumas behind the scenes, with Halliwell overjoyed to be reunited with Eden Taylor-Draper following her months away from the soap. “I missed her while she was gone. I’ve known Eden since she was six so she feels like a surrogate daughter. She’s been in my life for 11 years and I love her to bits. And I think she missed us while she was away too.

“But as for what will happen to Belle – well, that depends on what the writers have in store. They don’t always tell us about their plans and we have to adapt to whatever they say is going to happen. But I think there’ll be more trouble before Belle can pull herself round again.”

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For a 60-second rundown of all next week’s drama on Emmerdale, watch the video below: